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How to give oral supplements to a horse

Try mixing power supplements into your horse's feed or blending them with molasses.

Try mixing power supplements into your horse's feed or blending them with molasses.

 

If you plan to compete with your horse, equine supplements will quickly become part of your daily routine. Administering these supplements can be tricky – horses are finicky animals and do not respond well to having something shoved in their mouths. Here’s how to administer oral supplements in powder, syringe and pill form:

In powder form
The simplest way to administer supplements is to mix them, in powder form, into your horse’s feed. However, some equines are particular about what they eat and will reject anything that’s been tampered with. Introducing the supplement gradually into the feed, beginning with quarter or half-doses may help your horse become accustomed to the flavor. Try hiding the medication or supplements in something your horse finds irresistible. Horse Channel recommends mixing the product with two ounces of syrup, molasses, applesauce, pureed baby food or fat-free yogurt. The palatable flavor of Finish Line’s U-7 Gastric Aid may also mask the taste of other supplements or medications added to feed.

Via syringe
If adding supplements directly to the feed does not work, or if the supplement comes in a liquid or paste form, try using a syringe. Some pill medications can be combined with warm water to create a slurry, which can then be given via oral syringe.

“Accepting medication via syringe should be part of your horse’s daily training.”

Learning to accept medication or supplements via syringe should be part of your horse’s daily training, Pro Equine Grooms notes. Without establishing this tolerance beforehand, your horse will whinny and thrash about when it comes to dosing with a syringe. Take each step slowly when training, and do not proceed to the next until your horse is able to stay still.

Start by placing your finger at the corner of your equine’s mouth. Once it becomes used to this sensation, hook your finger inside. Over time, replace your finger with an empty syringe. Finally, fill the syringe with a treat like molasses or applesauce and squirt a small amount into the horse’s mouth. This teaches it to tolerate the temporary sensation in the hopes of getting a reward.

Many medications and supplements are designed to appeal to a horse’s taste buds. For example, Finish Line’s Quia-Cal, which supports healthy nerves, tastes like apples and cinnamon. If your horse doesn’t like the taste of its medicine, use a separate syringe to inject molasses or applesauce first, then administer the medicine and follow up with another dose of the sweet treat.

With your hand
If you have to give your horse medication that must remain in pill form, stand in front of the animal and wait for it to open its mouth. Take tight hold of the horse’s tongue and pull it out of the side of its mouth. Place the pill far back onto the tongue, then quickly release. Your horse should automatically swallow the pill.